This was the first weekend in what seems like ages that I had all to myself in my studio. My major work in progress is 346, a book dealing with my 7 week stay in hospital prior to the birth of my twins in 2011. As regular readers will know, the idea was that it was going to be in the form of boxed postcards, one for each day. This specific format was closely connected to the idea that it should be a larger edition, and not handmade as such. So I designed 46 postcards, both sides, wrote the text such that it fit in that format, selected images from my journals that I kept at the time, and then ordered all that in the form of photographic prints first for a second mock-up. That mock-up was finished a couple of weeks ago, and left me disappointed. Somehow this was just not working properly. Since then I have been thinking about how to change it, and my current idea is radically different, moving from postcards in a box to a boxed scroll. But although I am thrilled by my new idea, there are still lots of problems to solve. I will be asking your help and advice at the end of this post.

sketch of my reading thing – an anlogue version of a e-reader, really

My idea is that the spools with the content are hidden in closed compartments, and the reader has to wind a handle to access the images and text. In this way, s/he could not skip repetitive parts standing for the dull routine that set in after a couple of days, and s/he wouldn’t know that end is close from the few cards left in the box. These were two major issues that made the boxed set not work for me.

Well, this reader thing is only one aspect of what I envision for the book at the moment, but I don’t want to go into too much detail about that now. I will have to make this scroll-reader-thing work first in any case. So this weekend I started to build a model for the box, and, while I was at it, made also a couple of boxes that I wanted to make for a long time: boxes to store my thread. I got a bit carried away with the other boxes, I fear…

Box making day
Saturday: A couple of trays for the would thread, and two larger boxes with compartments for 346
Boxmaking craze continued
Sunday: More boxes and trays for thread, and on the upper right, four smaller boxes that go into the compartments of the 346 boxes to hide the scrolls
End of another boxmaking day
Sunday evening: two trays with smaller boxes covered for thread. A third tray with boxes still without cover. Standing on the upper edge of my table, 346 boxes, seen from the backside.

(I rather like the simpy grey covered boxes with the patterned paper inside very much, will try something like that for the tray that is still left to cover, I guess. Since these were all paper and fabric scraps, I am not sure that I still have enough to make it work though. Well, that is not that important now…)

My current idea is to use tyvek for the scroll, as I fear that paper might not stand the strain of being pulled like that. But then, thinking while I am typing this, probably a ready made scroll like the receipt paper used for cashes should work. – How is it really called and do you know where it can be bought?
I ordered some plastic modelling stuff in hope of making dowels from it, but I am not sure that this will work. – Do any of you have made something like that before? I would appreciate any pointers and sharing of experiences: what kind of techniques and materials worked for you and which didn’t?

Thanks in advance for your help!

4 replies on “Boxmaking weekend”

  1. Hi Hilke, love allllll the boxes!!

    The roll of paper is probably a “till-roll”. I would try Staples or Rymans for this.

    Idea for the stick parts: try rods with wing-nuts or gromets on the end? You’d get them in Wickes, or B&Q. Or ebay!

    Hope that helps?
    Looks like an interesting challenge.


    1. Hello Lizzie,

      thanks for the help with vocabulary. – With the right words I already found them online now. I am still insecure whether that would work, do you think the paper could stand the strain of being wound back and forth that way? Well, I guess I will have to try it out.

      I don’t really understand how you want to use a steel (?) rod. You mentioned wings and nots, so are you thinking of clamping the spool to the rod?


  2. Great looking boxes for the thread! Till roll (or till tape) as Lizzie said, at office supply places. You might consider wooden dowels for the rods —easier to glue the ends of the paper to it— and you can drill it to attach a crosswise handle. Where I live dowels can be found at DIY suppliers and hobby stores. They are cheaper at the DIY if they have the size you want! If you want the look of the plastic modelling material I would reinforce it with a metal or wooden support as I suspect it might fracture under the stress.

    My only thought about doing the book this way is that you will have to produce it entirely by hand! (Which is OK, if you want to take the time for that.)

    1. Hi Cathryn,

      yes, giving up the idea of having them “mass” produced was a hard part since it was so near the core of what I was thinking of. I figured that I first try to do a prototype by hand and then think anew about how and whether I would be able to have some of it manufactured and how. – One problem at a time 😉

      Wood for the dowels was my very first thought. But while trying to cut a slit into the rod to insert the end of the paper, it always split. Mhm, I guess you are thinking of glueing the end to the stick. That would work, too I guess. Mhm, and I could still attach a plastic handle like the one they have for corkscrews that should do it. – Yes, I think I am going to try that first.

      I think I am getting somewhere. Thanks for your help!


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